Friday, December 31, 2010

Best Albums Of 2010: Polar Bear

JazzWrap revisits our favourite albums of 2010.

Polar Bear (group)
Peepers (The Leaf Label)

Mark Lockheart (sax)
Peter Wareham (sax)
Sebastian Rochford (drums)
Tom Herbert (bass)
Leafcutter John (electronics)

2010 was a momentous year for Polar Bear. The beginning of the year saw the new offering of the amazing Peepers (The Leaf Label). In addition, the band returned at late in the year with the drastically different but extremely rewarding Common Ground (The Leaf Label). And to top things off, co-founding member, Seb Rochford disbanded the bands alter-ego Acoustic Ladyland. That band will resurrect at some point in a different incarnation according to Seb.

But our real focus is the superb Peepers which is a heavier sounding and more adventurous sounding album than its predecessors. Starting with the traditionally kinetic Polar Bear sound of "Happy For You" and then spinning quickly to the more contemplative and experimental chords of "Drunken Pharaoh" and "A New Morning Will Come". This was the sound of a band maturing and stretching everything with scintillating results.

The title track "Peepers" has an almost indie rock fell to it and shows how this band moves from theme to theme. But the band also show some real deconstructionism with "Hope Everyday Is A Happy New Year" and some straight ahead balladry (if I can call it that) with the lovely "Want To Believe Everything".

Peepers also has some of the band compositional work I have heard from Polar Bear since their first album and the subtle use of electronics throughout Peepers makes this a fascinating listen. This is why Polar Bear are one if not the most rewarding bands to come out of the English jazz scene over the last decade. Highly Recommended purchase for those of you who didn't know about Polar Bear. And one of our favourites this year.

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